Two hands clapping make a sound. What is the sound of one hand?
Perhaps the deepest reason why we are afraid of death is because we do not know who we are. We believe in a personal, unique, and separate identity — but if we dare to examine it, we find that this identity depends entirely on an endless collection of things to prop it up: our name, our ‘biography,’ our partners, family, home, job, friends, credit cards… It is on their fragile and transient support that we rely for our security. So when they are all taken away, will we have any idea of who we really are?
Without our familiar props, we are faced with just ourselves, a person we do not know, an unnerving stranger with whom we have been living all the time but we never really wanted to meet. Isn’t that why we have tried to fill every moment of time with noise and activity, however boring or trivial, to ensure that we are never left in silence with this stranger on our own?
Clear, transparent, empty, no concepts, no puzzles, no doctrines, no dogmas, no thoughts, no ideas. Nothingness, emptiness, vastness, silence, calmness, tranquility, full relaxation. Smile. Enjoy. Breathe. Be aware. Listen. Dissolve.
To this sage who sees what is good I have come supplicatingly with a question, ‘How is anyone to look upon the world so as not to be seen by the king of death?’
‘Look upon the world as empty, O Mogharagan,’ said the Buddha, ‘being always wakeful; having destroyed the view of oneself as really existing, one may overcome death; the king of death will not see the person who thus regards the world.’
When it’s time to suffer, you should suffer; when it’s time to cry, you should cry. Cry completely. Cry until there are no more tears and then recognize in your exhaustion that you’re alive. The sun still rises and sets. The seasons come and go. Absolutely nothing remains the same and that includes suffering. When the suffering ends wisdom begins to raise the right questions.
When you care about perfection, you care about an expectation. But there is also caring for where I am right now, for what’s happening right now. When I spend time with students, they tell me that they’ve read something in a book or heard something from a teacher that they don’t think they’re living up to. And I tell them, “Take care of yourself right now. Befriend what’s happening, not just who you’re supposed to be or what the world should be like. This is where you are now. So how do you care for yourself this minute?